The Bachelor of Contemporary Music at Southern Cross University was one of the first music courses in the country not geared to classical music or jazz.
Now, it’s one of the first music degrees in Australia to go online.
The course, offered at both Southern Cross’ Lismore campus and in Coomera through a partnership with Queensland TAFE; has been running since the inception of the University in 1986 when it was the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education.
Senior lecturer and Course Coordinator Dr Matt Hill, said the quick transition to online study provided many challenges, but with consistent help from Dr Lisa Jacka from the School of Education (a passionate advocate for integrating new technologies across curriculum areas), the team managed to complete the online conversion process in one, very full, week.
“Taking an entire degree that was completely face-to-face and delivering it all online has involved a massive effort from all of the staff,” said Dr Hill.
“It’s a big job and it’s certainly still a work in progress, but it’s working.”
“Obviously good quality audio and vision is important, if you want to play music or demonstrate a technique on drums for example, so getting the technology aspect right is paramount.”
The degree includes 13 units, with a mix of lectures and tutorials, some one-on-one lessons on specific instruments, or in song writing, and there are also small and large ensembles and small group lessons on an instrument.
“Classes are running 9-5 Monday to Thursday so today, for example, we have 5 classes running at the same time: a lecture in Studies In Western Art and Contemporary Music, a Sound Production tutorial, a workshop in Sound Styles and Culture, a small ensemble and a group guitar lesson.”
Most of these classes are happening in real-time through Collaborate Ultra in Blackboard, however the team are also using Zoom and exploring things like Skype and Facetime.
“The biggest challenge has been ensuring we’re delivering the same kind of learning outcomes. How do we do pedagogy correctly in an online world? This is where Lisa’s background has been very useful.”
“I’m always asking myself questions like, is this engaging for students? Is this still ticking the learning outcomes box?”
Dr Hill said he has found the process really engaging.
“It’s been an exciting time to reinvent what you do.”
There are currently 147 students enrolled in the degree.
“We’ve had graduates go on to successful careers in lots of different aspects of the industry. We’ve had one win a Grammy, one an Academy Award nominee, another, Scott Aplin, is the musical director for The Voice and quite a lot of graduates go on to do a Master of Teaching and become music teachers.”
“A lot of our graduates are teaching for the Northern Rivers Conservatorium of Music in Lismore and in schools in the area as well.”
Direct applications for mid-year entry are now open for Session 2 commencing July 6 2020.